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What are you doing for Valentine's

POSTED: February 12, 2013 2:29 p.m.
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Gone are the days where Valentine's Day notes were handwritten. Today we rely more on mass-produced greeting cards.

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Valentine's Day commemorates love and romance and the patron St. Valentine.

The history of St. Valentine is shrouded, and there are beliefs that many different people went by the name St. Valentine. One was a priest who served in Rome, Italy.

Some historians surmise that he was jailed for defiance during the reign of Claudius II, sentenced to death, and became a religious martyr. Pope Gelasius marked Feb.14 as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom in 496 AD. Today, the Catholic church recognizes at least three different martyred saints named Valentine or Valentius.

So how did St. Valentine's Day transform into a secular holiday? During the third century in Rome, Claudius II decided that men were better soldiers if they were single and had no attachments at home. So he outlawed marriage. St. Valentine didn't agree and reportedly performed marriages for young lovers in secret.

Another legend says Valentine himself authored the first Valentine card. It has been rumored he fell in love with a woman — the jailer's daughter — and sent her a letter. He signed it, "from your Valentine."

No matter the origins, today St. Valentine's Day celebrates love. Lovers exchange cards and tokens of affections, go out for dinner. Chocolates and roses go hand-in-hand with Valentine's Day.

Although certain customs have become common, some customs of Valentine's Day have fallen by the wayside. One is the "drawing of names" that took place in the 18th century. Names of men and women were placed into two different containers. A man's name was drawn and matched with a woman's name. The people were called "Valentines," and the pairing was considered a good omen of them marrying later.

Another lost custom was of a man wearing a paper heart with the name of the person he loved on it. The heart was pinned to his sleeve, which gave way to the expression, "wearing one's heart on one's sleeve." A woman could do the same type of thing by wearing a charm known as a love-badge near her heart.

Where now we send out mass-produced Valentine's Day cards, original Valentine's were handmade and personalized letters.

How will you show that special someone you care this year?

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